Guided Discovery: Paper, Scissors, and Glue

One of my favorite Guided Discovery lessons led children to explore ways they could use paper, glue sticks (or glue), and scissors. I was always amazed at what children could create with these simple materials and the many techniques they used to make two- and three-dimensional works. The experience expanded the children’s repertoire of ideas for using these materials. After this Guided Discovery, when we used collage for class projects or at Academic Choice time, the students’ work was richer and more powerful.

There are lots of picture books that might complement and enrich a Guided Discovery of paper, scissors, and glue. I recommend sharing such books after students have had a chance to explore their own ideas and techniques: at that point, their minds will be expanded even more when they see what “real” artists and illustrators have created with materials like those they just tried out. Here are a few suggestions that could work well for any grade level:

In Perfect Square, Michael Hall takes “a perfect red square” and cuts, tears, and dyes it so that it is transformed into many new and exciting objects. For instance, when the square is cut up and poked full of holes, it becomes a fountain that “babbled and giggled and clapped.” After doing your Guided Discovery about paper, scissors, and glue, read this book and try having each student create a page for a class book modeled on Perfect Square.

Steve Jenkins and Robin Page have mastered the art of collage to make many beautiful books, any of which would support a Guided Discovery lesson on paper, scissors, and glue. One of my favorites is What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? This book is a great read-aloud with intriguing collage illustrations. On each double-page spread, Jenkins and Page focus on a particular animal body part. For instance, on the nose page, they illustrate the noses of a platypus, a mole, an elephant, an alligator, and a hyena. Then they ask, “What do you do with a nose like this?” Students will enjoy identifying the animals—and studying how the husband-and-wife pair uses different types and textures of paper.

Lois Ehlert is another illustrator who uses collage to create simple yet powerful picture books. In her latest, RRRalph, she uses real objects and a variety of paper types to create intriguing pictures depicting scenes from the life of a dog named Ralph. Throughout the book, an unseen narrator asks Ralph questions which he answers with silly pun-like responses. (“Ralph, what’s on that tree? Bark, bark, bark!”) As you read it aloud, students will love studying the pictures and what Ehlert used for each, as well as predicting Ralph’s answers to the questions.

Guided Discovery leads children to think creatively and divergently about materials and projects. And combining picture books with Guided Discovery lessons opens children’s minds even further to the creative possibilities of simple materials.

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Tags: Guided Discovery, Language Arts